Connecting the Smart Factory and IoT feature at JIMTOF 2016

There’s an old Japanese proverb, “Kachou Fuugetsu”, which means ‘Experience the beauties of nature and in doing so learn about yourself.’

Culture is an important aspect of human existence. From impacting on our behaviour to our aspirations, culture plays a vital role in defining who we are. I have been fond of exploring and experiencing different cultures and I have been lucky enough to travel to a few countries, both so called first and third-world and those in between, and experience their culture firsthand. Every place I go to, there’s a different charm about the people and the way they do things. I always try to learn the good aspects of every culture, something that helps me to become a better human being. To a great deal, it also enlightens me professionally.

Visiting a machine tool exhibition in Tokyo, Japan does not conjure up ideas of walking through a nature reserve or national park. But what it does highlight is that as a global leader in machine tool design and construction, Japan plays a key role in developing and promoting new metalworking technology and usually does not disappoint in releasing product introductions and new technologies.

JIMTOF is always held at the Tokyo Big Site exhibition grounds and convention centre, which is conveniently linked to an efficient public transport system that will move you seamlessly to downtown Tokyo, and is close to a number of first-class accommodation choices

The final count for the number of exhibitors at JIMTOF 2016 was 969 and the number of visitors was 147 602 (136 196 in 2014)

A visitor to JIMTOF – The Japan International Machine Tool Fair – held every alternative year at Tokyo’s Big Sight exhibition and convention centre, which is conveniently linked to an efficient public transport system that will move you seamlessly to downtown Tokyo – will see that Japanese companies operating in the metalworking space have embraced the beauty and concepts of the rapid move toward smart factories in which smart machines are fully networked.

This is despite the tough trading conditions that the industry is experiencing. On 15 November 2016, just before the opening of JIMTOF 2016, the Japan Machine Tool Builders’ Association (JMTBA) announced that the total value of machine tool orders in October 2016 was 93.88 billion yen. This was a decrease of 8.7% compared to September 2016 and marked the first month of decline in two months. Moreover, this figure represented a decrease of 8.9% compared to the same month of the previous year, with the posting of the fifteenth consecutive month of year-on-year decline. The total amount of orders fell below 100 billion yen for the first time in two months.

Domestic orders fell by 9.2% from September, amounting to 41.36 billion yen and foreign orders fell by 8.4% from September to 52.53 billion yen. Looking at major industries Japanese orders in September 2016 fell by 21.0% in industrial machinery, rose by 11.3% in motor vehicles, fell by 9.6% in electrical and precision machinery and fell by 29.3% in aircraft, shipbuilding and transport equipment.

An international press conference was held on the third day of the show and the media were addressed by Yoshimaro Hanaki Chairman of the Japan Machine Tool Builders’ Association (JMTBA), seen here third left in the picture. Also in the picture are Ms. Keiko Honda, Assistant Manager, International Marketing Department of the JMTBA, Yoji Ishimaru, President of JMTBA and Tomohisa Yamazaki, Chairman of International Committee JMTBA, Shigemi Oikawa, Executive Vice president and CEO of Tokyo Big Sight Inc and Norikazu Shigitani, Chairman of Trade Fair Committee, JMTBA

All halls at JIMTOF 2016 were busy with visitors intent on getting the latest information

Subsequently the JMTBA announced that the total value of machine tool orders in November 2016 was 107.93 billion yen. This was an increase of 15.0% compared to October 2016 and marked the first month of growth in two months. However, this figure represented a decrease of 5.6% compared to the same month of the previous year, with the posting of a sixteenth consecutive month of year-on-year decline. Domestic orders rose by 8.7% over October 2016, amounting to 44.96 billion yen and foreign orders rose by 19.9% over October to 62.97 billion yen. Is this a sign of recovery?

Enter the Internet of Things
In one of the press conferences that the international press attended I asked Dr. Eng. Masahiko Mori, President of DMG MORI Company Limited, what he thought was the ‘Wow!’ factor of JIMTOF 2016. He was unequivocal in his answer: “The Internet of Things (IoT) and the Smart Factory.” He certainly was correct and this was evidenced throughout the exhibition. Even the organisers JMTBA adopted IoT as the show theme with the title “The Future Starts Here.” The theme for the 2014 show was Mono-Zukuri DNA. Loosely translated the phrase means “an inspired approach to the art and science of making things should be at the core of our beings”. Now it is all about monitoring and then making decisions.

They say significant improvements in metal cutting productivity, quality and reliability will come from a data-driven fourth revolution in manufacturing technology. Data on hand that can be transformed into actionable information to avoid downtime and improve productivity through more detailed and timely monitoring.

Mr. Fumio Tsurumaki, Johny Hansen of Multitrade Distributors, Mr Motoharu Yamamoto, Mr Yoshiyuki Fujibajashi and Mr Ricky Chua, all of Mitsubishi Materials Corporation

Eran Marcus of Tungaloy Corporation, John Tang of Tungaloy Malaysia with Jacob Harpaz CEO of Iscar and President of the IMC Group

The Internet of Things is a collection of sensors gathering data on customer behaviour or equipment use, which, in turn, feeds into an analytics engine. The big idea is to employ machine learning to detect patterns and make predictions that come close to a clear endpoint.

However, experts are saying that not all decisions can be based on data alone. For example: One machine is taken out of service for maintenance unnecessarily while a seemingly functional machine breaks down. While a breakdown is observable, unnecessary downtime is hard to assess.

Done right, predictive insights gleaned from IoT data can disrupt entire industries. Some manufacturers of IoT equipped machines, for instance, have solved the exact problem stated above. In what’s called predictive maintenance, they’ve figured out maintenance lifecycles of machines to such a degree that they’ve disrupted their business models, such as renting machines instead of selling them.

Chris and Peter Killian from Hi-Tech Machine Tools attended JIMTOF 2016

Schaeffler and DMG MORI signed a cooperation agreement on the development of additive manufacturing processes for rolling bearing components at JIMTOF 2016. From left to right: Dr.-Ing. Masahiko Mori, President of DMG MORI Company Limited, Dr. Stefan Spindler, CEO Industrial of Schaeffler AG and Christian Thönes, Chairman of the Executive Board of DMG MORI AG

They say predictive maintenance can reduce downtime by as much as 50 per cent, extend machine life, and lower equipment and capital investment by up to five per cent. But IoT can work against companies, too. There’s no question it breaks open the floodgates to a data deluge. More data means higher risk of the wrong data getting into the analytics system, thus skewing results. If the analytics engine isn’t up to the required standard, or personal bias has crept into the model, then the odds of getting wrong insights skyrockets. Then there is also the question of network security.

However, despite this new PLM systems are increasingly leveraging the push toward full digitalisation and development of applications for the IoT.

Connecting the Smart Factory
Manufacturing is moving towards the ‘Industrial Internet’ to build digital smart factories that can connect, communicate, and use smart data in real time to optimise operations. New automation choices are fueling growth in the connected industrial Internet digital manufacturing revolution. The pace of technological change is rapidly accelerating, as automation suppliers and controls developers race to bring to fruition the connected factory of the future.

As the automation industry becomes more globally focused and competitive, users need to keep their business models relevant and move from mass production to mass customisation.

But not everything was about IoT
The rise of the machines in the workplace has US and European experts predicting massive unemployment and tumbling wages.

Not in Japan, where robots are welcomed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government as an elegant way to handle the country’s aging populace, shrinking workforce and public aversion of immigration.

Japan is already a robotics powerhouse. Abe wants more and has called for a “robotics revolution.” His government launched a five-year push to deepen the use of intelligent machines in manufacturing, supply chains, construction and health care, while expanding the robotics markets from ¥660 billion to ¥2.4 trillion by 2020.

Okuma Introduced their milling, turning, and grinding as well as laser-hardening and 3D metal printing machines MU-6300V Laser EX and the Multus U3000 Laser EX

Mitsui Seiki introduced a hybrid additive/subtractive machine. The company’s Vertex 55X-H combines a traditional CNC vertical machining center with a spindle-adapted laser powder feed nozzle

In the last few years the race by machine manufacturers to be at the forefront of manufacturing hybrid machines has increased. The explosion in additive manufacturing, or 3D printing as some like to call it, has been well documented. Now it is the turn of hybrid machines, machines that combine subtractive processes (conventional milling, grinding, honing and turning) with additive processes such as laser cladding, wire arc welding and laser metal deposition. The emergence of hybrid machine tools that combine additive manufacturing (AM) processes with traditional substractive technologies in CNC milling machines has sparked considerable interest in the machine tool industry. Opposed to most standalone AM systems, hybrid machines can produce ready to use components.

DMG MORI were one of the first companies to surprise the world when, in 2014, it launched its Lasertec 65 3D Shape, which allows highly compact 5-axis milling and laser texturing of 3D plastic injection moulding tools on one machine and in one setup. After the milling of the mould, a geometrically defined surface structure is applied to the mould by means of a fiber laser. A final erosion or etching is eliminated.

Not to be outdone, one of DMG MORI’s biggest competitors – Mazak Corporation – introduced its new hybrid multi-tasking technology when it unveiled its new Integrex i-400AM at JIMTOF 2014. The company has since launched a VC-500 AM hybrid multi-tasking machine and an Integrex i-200S AM.

The value of adding a milling process to a laser sintering machine continued with the launch of two other machines in 2014. The Matsuura Lumex Avance-25 integrates a fiber laser for sintering layers of metal powder with a high-speed milling process that contours a number of successive layers of sintered material. The milling leaves a surface that is smooth and accurate, requiring no subsequent finishing.

Also launched at JIMTOF 2014 was Sodick’s metal 3D printer, the OPM250L, a very similar hybrid laser sintering/high-speed milling machine.

The Lumex Avance-25 metal laser sintering hybrid milling machine is the product of a partnership between MC Machinery Systems, wholly owned by Mitsubishi Corp., and Matsuura Machinery Corp

Mitutoyo launched an in-line inspection system designed for the automobile industry to achieve 100% (all parts) x 100% (all features) inspection, improved Dial Test Indicators and the ABS AT1100 series linear scale featuring its unique electromagnetic induction type linear encoder. Other new products to be launched in 2017 were also on display. The picture shows how robotics are ever increasingly being used in inspection operations

The theme continued in 2015. Reduction in manufacturing cost and total in-process time is critical for industries in developed countries in order to maintain a competitive advantage. At the same time, high added value manufacturing is also required.

“Growing” parts or, part features with additive manufacturing processes, was also a theme at the EMO 2015 exhibition.

Spanish manufacturer Ibarmia launched a 5-axis moving column hybrid configuration, WFL Millturn Technologies launched a millturn machine incorporating a laser head for laser cladding, GF Machining Solutions introduced the AgieCharmilles AMS 290 tooling additive manufacturing machine, a powder bed based machine,

German machine tool maker Hermle has since integrated additive manufacturing capability into its C 40 U five-axis machining center.

Hurco has developed a spindle-powered, wireless 3D print head that extrudes plastic PLA filament, allowing operators of Hurco vertical machining centers to convert WinMax part programmes to a 3D printed rapid prototype, directly on the CNC machine.

Machine tool manufacturer ELB-SCHLIFF presented a comprehensive portfolio of precision grinding technology at IMTS 2016, including the millGrind “additive hybrid” machine.

The theme continues at JIMTOF 2016
JIMTOF does not disappoint in releasing product introductions and new technologies for the first time. Mitsui Seiki introduced a hybrid additive/subtractive machine. The company’s Vertex 55X-H combines a traditional CNC vertical machining center with a spindle-adapted laser powder feed nozzle.

The Lumex Avance-25 metal laser sintering hybrid milling machine is the product of a partnership between MC Machinery Systems, wholly owned by Mitsubishi Corp., and Matsuura Machinery Corp. The machine is one of the only machines in the world providing one-machine, one-process manufacturing of complex moulds and parts by fusing laser metal sintering via a Yb fiber laser and high-speed milling, to speed up the production of primarily mould and die components. Laser sintering adds layers of material, and the machine’s milling spindle subsequently machines the material to ensure a quality surface finish.

Also launched was the Lumex Avance 60, which was designed to produce larger components such as cutaway eight-cylinder engine blocks. This machine can accommodate workpieces as large as 600 x 600 x 500mm and as heavy as 1 300 kilograms.

Introduction of milling, turning, and grinding as well as laser-hardening and 3D metal printing
Among the highlights of JIMTOF 2016 was the introduction of the world’s first multitasking machines capable of milling, turning, and grinding as well as laser-hardening and 3D metal printing.

Designed to be the world’s first “done-on-one” machines, the Okuma MU-6300V Laser EX and the Multus U3000 Laser EX are capable of milling, turning, grinding, 3D metal printing and heat treatment for a wide range of workpiece sizes and shapes. On-machine hardening provides the solution to a major bottleneck in production: Compared to hardening by conventional heat treatment, the process is quick and causes less distortion, resulting in dramatically increased throughput. The machine tools fully support agile manufacturing and process-intensive applications.

Nikon Metrology demonstrated their MCAx 7-axis articulated arm, an easy-to-use portable 7-axis measuring arm

Exechon had on display their XT700S Exechon Generation III, a parallel kinematics machine that is starting to be recognised in industry

With a high-quality Trumpf laser beam source at its core, Okuma’s Laser EX series enables stable laser processing over long runs. The machines allow for laser metal deposition for both large-capacity and high definition additive manufacturing. 0.4mm to 8.5mm laser spot diameters enable unparalleled throughput regardless of the application. 3D moulding, coating and sectional repair of heat-resistant alloys and highly rigid materials are available on the machine as well.

Okuma’s OSP control meanwhile monitors and controls the entire process, ensuring reliable and stable additive manufacturing for products on par with forged components. The machine tools therefore meet the quality requirements of even the most demanding applications and industries such as aerospace machining.

DMG MORI Lasertec 4300 3D
To enable booth visitors to see in real time the additive manufacturing operation being performed inside the hybrid Lasertec 4300 3D, DMG MORI incorporated a video display into the machine’s windows. The Lasertec 4300 3D is based on a turn-mill machine so that turning will be possible in addition to five-axis milling and additive manufacturing. The hybrid is equipped with as many as five powder deposition heads and was launched in 2016.

DMG MORI and Schaeffler Technologies
While at JIMTOF 2016 DMG MORI and Schaeffler Technologies AG & Co. KG, system supplier for rolling bearings, linear guides and drive technology, signed a cooperation agreement that has the objective of jointly pursuing development work in the field of additive manufacturing of rolling bearings. Additive manufacturing is a strategic focus in Schaeffler’s development roadmap.

“Smart Machine” for 5-axis vertical machining
Designed to stand at the heart of a smart factory, Okuma also introduced a 5-axis vertical machining centre MU-S600V that is able to instantly respond to changed lead-times and accommodates production formats ranging from high-mix, low volume to mass production.

The compact MU-S600V has a very small footprint with a machine-width of 1 400mm and is able to cut workpieces of up to 600mm in diameter. Its robotic table enables completely unmanned, automated operations, eliminating manual handling of parts between set-ups in different machines. Production line layouts are easily adjusted in accordance with changes in production volume.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Machine Tool unveiled the “Ablaser-DUV”, the latest model in the Ablaser micromachining line. This world-first technology uses a short pulse deep ultraviolet (DUV) laser. With its optimally designed optical system, it provides a smaller focal spot diameter while maintaining a long depth of focus. This enables finer and higher-precision micromachining and drilling.

Mitsubishi Materials (MMC) 51% shareholding in Hitachi Tool Engineering Ltd
I also found out that Mitsubishi Materials (MMC) of Japan had acquired a 51% shareholding in Hitachi Tool Engineering Ltd, a leading Japanese cemented carbide cutting tool and wear part manufacturer. Hitachi Tool Engineering Ltd was a division of Hitachi Metals Ltd and Hitachi Metals retains the remaining 49% shareholding. The relatively unknown transaction was already completed in 2015. The company is now known as Mitsubishi Hitachi Tool Engineering Ltd.

Additionally, several builders have incorporated collision-avoidance features into the software in the CNC. Essentially, the simulation of the machining programme stays ahead of its actual execution, creating an opportunity for the software to detect and avoid impending crashes or interference.

Another frontier that machine tool builders are pushing into is machining accuracy in the sub-micron level. Applications range from miniaturised electronics to advanced designs of airspace components such as jet engine blades.

Japanese culture
Out of all the places I’ve been to, Japan has never ceased to amaze me. And it is not limited to the great food they have, but also the lifestyle of the people. The strong determination is in the air, ready to fight and overcome any hurdles in the way with a bright smile that would make anyone’s day. The amount of optimism and positivity I get from Japan is unmatchable.

Politeness is a trait that makes me respect Japan hugely. In every store I entered, I was always greeted politely. Even if I didn’t buy anything, I was still thanked for my visit. People recognise if you need help or look lost and go out of their way to help you. Apology is another trait that adds up to the politeness quotient. People in Japan would apologise for even the smallest of inconvenience, even if it wasn’t bothering me much. When using public transport, people avoid talking on the phone as it would disturb the co-passengers. Even after numerous visits to Japan, I have never seen a single person shouting on the phone, or even talking loudly.

One truly witnesses the power of humility and wisdom in Japan. Mutual respect is another highlight of the Japanese culture. Respecting elderly people, teachers, parents and even strangers is a way of life in Japan. The amount of courtesy Japanese people offer is unmatched. Another way of showing respect is by respecting the other person’s time. That’s when punctuality comes in. People in Japan are extremely punctual to the second. The high-speed bullet train, The Shinkansen, rides hundreds of kilometers with a time difference of less than two seconds from the estimated time of arrival/departure.

Punctuality comes from organisation. From public lives to private, everything in Japan is well organised. In order to prevent chaos, people refrain from breaking the order. Even if you are standing in a long queue, people wait patiently and don’t push. The calm within Japanese people is something that fuels the inner peace, integrity and determination of the people.

The culture of Japan deeply values credibility. And it is not something you would gain in Japan by talking about it. In fact, people who talk less are considered to be more credible and wise.

Japan is rich in tradition and culture. The highlight of the International Dinner Party was the breaking of the lid of the sake barrel. Kagami-biraki is a ceremony performed at celebratory events in which the lid of the sake barrel is broken open by a wooden mallet and the sake is served to everyone present. Kagami refers to the lid of the sake barrel and biraki means “to open” so kagami-biraki literally means “opening the lid.” Because of the lid’s round shape, the kagami is a symbol of harmony. The kagami-biraki, therefore, represents an opening to harmony and good fortune

The JMTBA organised a visit for journalists and guests to the UNESCO registered Nippon Institute of Technology Museum, established on the campus in 1987, where over 400 historically valuable machines and instruments that contributed to the development of the Japanese manufacturing industry are exhibited. The museum includes 270 machine tools of which one is the first machining center to be manufactured

When in Japan, another aspect that catches the eye is the cleanliness. There are hardly any dustbins and even then there’s no littering or fines. Japanese people carry their rubbish until they reach home or see a dustbin.

I strongly believe that the world has a lot to learn from the Japanese. From their willingness to work hard, to respecting others, to doing the best for the family or organisation and worrying less about their own needs. Japan sets high benchmarks for personal and professional lives.

I was one of a select group of international journalists from the USA, Germany, China, Taiwan, Czech Republic, Brazil and South Africa to be invited by the JMTBA to attend JIMTOF 2016. I must thank the management and staff of the JMTBA sincerely as we (the international journalists and editors) were treated royally. I personally thank Ms. Keiko Honda, Assistant Manager, International Marketing Department of the JMTBA for so expertly organising all my travel and accommodation arrangements.

The final count for the number of exhibitors at JIMTOF 2016 was 969 and the number of visitors was 147 602 (136 196 in 2014).

The 29th Japan International Machine Tool Fair is scheduled to open in Tokyo Big Sight for 6 days from November 1 to 6 November 2018.